Where the Environmentally Conscious Shop
As I walk through the aisle of my local supermarket I see so many more organic brands gracing the shelves. It’s easier to find gluten-free options, vegan and cleaner foods than it used to be but I cringe at the over packaging and the hidden ingredients. As I head to the fresh produce section there is a small amount of organic produce to choose from, but I struggle here. Single vegetables are wrapped in plastic wrap and the frequent flyer miles are to be envied.
Most people don’t realise the reason why supermarket tomatoes don’t taste very tomatoey. They are picked unripe and sprayed with ethylene (which is linked to lymphoma and leukemia) which kickstarts the ripening process. Then they may be stored for 2-3 weeks where fungicides and sterilizers may be sprayed on them to keep them from getting damaged. Then weeks later it is sent to your local supermarket.
If that is a turn off for you (and I’m not surprised if it is) then you will be pleased to know there is an alternative which I’m going to share with you. I don’t have a lot of time for shopping, it’s not something I really enjoy doing, it’s more of a get in and get out scenario for me. So rest assured if you are busy and don’t have the luxury of ambling across many shops during your busy week then this will work for you too.
Bulk Food Shops
Most people have a bulk food shop or co-op near them. These shops are great as they don’t have the nasty packaging and there are items that you cannot find at the supermarket. I bring my own liquid pumps, bottles and glass jars and fill them up with everything I need. You can also use their paper bags and empty clean recycled bottles if you don’t bring your own. I drop my containers off at my local store and pick them up later once they have filled them for me and you may also be able to have your order delivered. Many shops have adopted this practice since Covid-19.
I buy the majority of my household goods at these shops. Oils, spices, muesli. It’s all in the one place and once it becomes a habit to frequent this shop, a weekly trip is quick and easy.
Online Bulk Shops
If you don’t have the luxury of a bulk shop close by, you can choose to purchase your goods from online shops and buy in bulk. For this to be an environmental option it does need to be purchased in large volumes as it is stored in plastic. Continuing to buy your cashew nuts in 500g bags like you do in the supermarket is not sustainable as it’s using the same amount of packaging and isn’t improving your shopping practices.
I used this option for many years and stored it in my large garage. It was really handy as I never ran out of my essentials. Be careful of weavels though, they love lentils!
This works really well for cleaning products and some household items. I buy my toilet paper from Who Gives a Crap and it is delivered to my door regularly. It’s really user friendly and I love the wrapping. Companies such as Zero Co offer a subscription for your cleaning products and they send you refill pouches which you then post back to them to be cleaned and reused.
Fruit and Vegetable Deliveries
These are generally done online and are an easy option and widely available even if you live in the city. It’s seasonal, delivered to your door and really fresh and local. I like to meal plan so I choose what is in my box from a local farmer, but you may like being surprised by having them choose for you. If they choose for you it pays to investigate what is in the box on average so it isn’’t made up of just carrots and potatoes and a few leafy greens. Yes this happened to me and it was a boring week of dinners.
Not so much a quick shop, these shopping destinations are a feast for the senses. For me, I love to create recipes as I meander through the stalls, coming home with goodies ready to spend time in the kitchen. If time isn’t on your side, many stallholders are happy for you to place an order during the week and have it boxed up and ready for you to pick up on market day.
One of mny favorite experiences was buying from a community-supported agriculture farm. Each season you pay a membership and what is harvested each week at the farm is divided between those who are involved. We were getting unusual produce like nettle, yellow beetroot and heirloom tomatoes and having a lot of fun with them. If you have access to this type of farm I recommend giving it a go for a season, it’s lots of fun and you are supporting something positive.
Health Food Shops
This is where I buy a lot of my personal products, mine has a fun selection of nailpolish and a lot of makeup brands to choose from plus the usuals such as deodorant and facewash. They are perfect for forgotten last minute food staples or refrigerated items such as organic or vegan butters, gluten free breads etc.
Depending on their size (mine is small and intimate) they may offer bulk food and a larger range of pantry staples and household items as well.
Online Health Shops
These are like your local health food shop on steroids! You can check out Biome to see what I mean. These are fantastic for cosmetics, supplements, but also extend into household items, sustainable fashion and gifts and so much more.